“Frank knew the power exploration held in uniting humanity when he said, ‘Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit,’ “ said NASA's Bill Nelson
Frank Borman — a former NASA astronaut Col. who commandeered the Apollo 8 to the moon — has died at the age of 95.
Borman died on Nov. 7 in Billings, Montana, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement posted on NASA’s website on Thursday. He described the space travel pioneer as “one of NASA’s best” and lauded him for his accomplishments.
“Astronaut Frank Borman was a true American hero,” Nelson said. “Among his many accomplishments, he served as the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, humanity’s first mission around the Moon in 1968.”
“His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan,” he added.
Borman was born in Gary, Ind., and raised in Tucson, Ariz. and developed a love for aviation at the age of 15, according to his biography on NASA's official website. He would go on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, in 1950 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1957.
He initially began his career as an officer with the U.S. Air Force. There, he applied his skills to various roles including fighter pilot, operational pilot and instructor, experimental test pilot and an assistant professor of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics at West Point. The culmination of his work with the Air Force eventually led to him being tapped by NASA.
“His exceptional experience and expertise led him to be chosen by NASA to join the second group of astronauts,” Nelson said in his statement.
Borman worked on the project Gemini 7 in 1965, in which he spent “14 days in low-Earth orbit” and conducted the “first rendezvous in space, coming within a few feet of the Gemini 6 spacecraft,” according to Nelson.
Two years later, Borman served as a member of the Apollo 204 Fire Investigation Board and helped investigate the cause of a fire that killed three astronauts aboard an Apollo spacecraft. He eventually became the Apollo Program Resident Manager, headed the team that reengineered the Apollo spacecraft and served as Field Director of NASA's Space Station Task Force.
For his feats in NASA, Borman earned a Congressional Space Medal of Honor from the President of the United States. He was also awarded the Harmon International Aviation Trophy, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, the Tony Jannus Award and the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal. In 1990, he along with two other astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission were inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Three years later, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame as well.
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Borman retired from the Air Force in 1970, carrying his aviation knowledge over to Eastern Airlines, where he became an advisor in early 1969, rose to CEO in 1975 and became chairman of the board just a year later. He ultimately retired from the airline in 1986.
“Frank knew the power exploration held in uniting humanity when he said, ‘Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit,’ “ Nelson said. “His service to NASA and our nation will undoubtedly fuel the Artemis Generation to reach new cosmic shores.”
He is survived by his wife Susan and his two sons, Frederick and Edwin.
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